Arkansas One Of 21 States Raising Minimum Wage On January 1

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(CNNMoney)- The New Year will start well for over 3 million workers — they’re getting a raise.

Employers in 21 states and Washington D.C. will hike their minimum wages on January 1.

Arkansas is one of those states. On New Year’s Day the state minimum wage will go up to $7.50 from $7.25 after voters passed a bill during the general election on Nov. 4. From there, the state minimum wage will go up to $8.00 on Jan. 1, 2016, and $8.50 on Jan. 2017.

This has been a huge year for low wage workers. Sparked by a wave of fast food and retail worker protests, more than a dozen states like Alaska, South Dakota and Nebraska and many cities such Seattle and Oakland have jumped on the momentum and passed new laws to raise the minimum wage.

“We’ve seen a historic number of states increasing their minimum wages,” said David Cooper, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, which researches minimum wage issues. “People’s understanding of where the wage floor should be has changed a lot, and in part caused by strikes and protests.”

It could certainly be a big day for Wayne Davis, who earns $8.25 an hour at McDonald’s in Tampa, Florida. Davis earns 20 cents more than Florida’s new minimum wage of $8.05. But workers across the board are likely see a pay bump, labor experts say.

“It’s stressful having to live off of minimum wage,” said 19-year-old Davis, who is hoping that he can help out his grandma, with whom he lives. Already, he pitches in $500 a month for household bills and is expecting his expenses to go up when he enrolls at the University of South Florida in January.

In 2015, a majority of states — 29 — will have a higher minimum wage than the federal wage, which is $7.25 an hour.

The city and state-led reforms are mounting pressure on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, but the needle hasn’t moved much there. Still, wages will likely remain a heated topic as the country enters the 2016 election cycle.

West Coast cities led the push for higher wages this year, breaking the $15 an hour barrier for the first time. Seattle and San Francisco passed $15 wage laws, while Los Angeles announced a significant wage hike too.

San Diego will raise its wage on New Year’s Day from $9 to $9.75 an hour with further increases in following years.

The debate next year will focus on how these cities are impacted by the wage increases. Critics say it will take away jobs while advocates argue that workers will be able to spend more money.

“It certainly has been a long time since we’ve seen a big day like this,” says Chris Tilly, a wage expert and professor at University of California, Los Angeles. “People are concerned about inequality. This is a reform that targets inequality.”

6 comments

    • Kevin

      I make more than minimum wage my pay will not go up therefore my wage is diminished is that delusional? I got off my butt and found a job that made more than minimum wage is that delusional and paranoid?

      • Watcher

        There will always be individuals that perform the little low paying jobs that makes your life more convenient. It’s delusional to thinks that everyone will make a certain amount that you believe is acceptable. That’s how Capitalism works. We could become Socialist or even Communist. Will that work?

  • Lurker

    A couple friends of mine who own a business was screaming to anyone who would listen to vote “no” for a minimum wage increase. I just laughed at them.

  • And now inflation

    Wonderful, so min wage goes up .25 while a Big Mac goes up .50. Do the supporters actually believe that the corporations are going to take a pay cut to pay for this? LOL So they give you .25 but your food bill goes up 20.00 per week…

    • roberto

      So Big Mac goes up $0.50, I assume that is per Big Mac? Then you state that your food bill would go up $20.00 per week. By that logic you are eating way too many Big Macs.

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